How to be an authority figure in Twitter

All of a Twitter

This month has seen yet another technology take off in a big way. 

The graph below details the amount of time that the word Twitter has been used in Facebook in the last few months.  The lines are going up.  That must be good!

Twitter is a really simple tool that lets you post simple status updates (of 160 characters) throughout the day, much as you do in Facebook, and share them with people on Twitter.  But where Facebook only allows you to share updates with your chosen friends, anyone can see your Twitter updates.  Treat it as a micro-blog and you’re pretty much on the right lines.

The same issues with blogging apply to Twitter,  You want to have a big following and to do that you have to write great content.  If you’re already an established authority on a subject then it’s far easier to get a big following, but the great thing about Twitter is that it has a much smaller membership than the blogging world, so the possibility of becoming an authority figure is much easier.

So where do you start?

I started by looking up some of bloggers that I like and started to ‘Follow’ them.  They often ‘Tweet’ or post an update where they mention a particular blog that they’re reading or mention a particular development and it’s quite interesting to read what they’re saying and what they’re reading.  You can also listen in on what they’re saying to the people in their network so you can see who they consider to be people worth listening to and you can follow them too. 

It’s pretty much like evesdropping (and not far off stalking!) when you approach it this way. But if you’re lucky, some of the people that you’re following might follow you and then, all of a sudden, you effectively have the ear of an authority in your chosen area. 

That’s great, but what’s even better is that they have the ears of a huge network of other authorities and if you tweet something or post something insightful or useful enough then it’ll very quickly get distributed to this huge network of authorities.

So the questions are:

  1. How do you get people to follow you?
  2. How do you use this tool effectively?

How do you build a network?

Well, this is pretty hard, but there are plenty of blog posts offering ideas that you might want to try.  What I would do is to have a really cool profile picture – one that’s really eye catching, distinct and memorable, a link to your blog (that will, of course, have loads of interesting stuff in it) and a very catchy profile – it has to be short (160 chars I think), so take time to make it punchy and attractive. 

It’s not easy, but if you start to follow someone, you can guarantee that they’ll be checking out your profile so make it brilliant – nothing less.  If they like what they see then they’ll follow you.  Most importantly, make sure that all of your tweets are really worthwhile, cutting edge, thought provoking stuff on the subject matter of the network you’re trying to get into.  You can tweet about your favourite colour and your broken toenail once you have good sized network.  At the moment you’re marketing yourself so make sure you’re got something good to say,  If you’ve got something interesting to say then people will want to follow you.  Once you start to get a few followers then a natural momentum should begin.

How do you make the most out of Twitter?

Who knows?  The main thing to remember is that good content always works.  If you post good stuff then people will love you for it.  If you read a good article then post a link.  If you post lots of good articles then you could maybe post your latest blog entry.  Perhaps you just read something and it struck a chord with you – why not mention it and share the love with your friends.

Imaging the power of having the ear of loads of authority figures and then when you post your latest blog entry then all pile in to read it! And it’s not just that they all pile in to read it – it’s that they read it and if they like it then they stumble it and digg it and add it to delicious.  Imagine the size of that extended network?  Imagine the sheer traffic that would drive to your blog?

But like everything else, use it sensibly.  Don’t spam – you’ll lose all of your friends, be an outcast and probably die a loner in the gutter somewhere.  Instead, use it as you would with your real life friends.  Recommend stuff, share stuff, ask for favours, offer favours.  Treat the people on there as you would treat your real life friends.

Good luck!

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